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A minha foto
Lisboa, Portugal
Nasci no dia 11 de Junho de 1964 na cidade da Beira, MOÇAMBIQUE.

A Estação dos CFM, Beira

A Estação dos CFM, Beira
Ex-libris da cidade, 1966

The Euro, as a single currency, should be abolished

Another black and white motion statement leaving me no option but to choose No.
While I agree to the first part I am not prepared to contemplate the idea that the Euro should get abolished.
Abolished? Then what?
All 17 countries now sharing the single currency would revert back to their old monies?
Or a new version of yesteryear's currencies?

Simplistic as I made it out to be packed in a few odd questions, every single serious economic, financial and social consequence is inextricably wrapped up within each.
That is where the stakes are high enough to ensure that the Euro is given a new lease on life.
It calls for closer European integration.
What form and shape this will take is for policymakers and far-sighted politicians to grasp and propose.

It would seem to me that the Euro has many underlying strengths but will not - contrary to the founder's beliefs - assure convergence between all the economies it services. How could it?
The divide has been felt acutely lately (1-2 years) the logical consequence of relevant economic under-performance among member-countries.

There has obviously got to be a political solution rooted in realistic economic fundamentals.
The road traveled so far proved artificially smooth during the first 10 years I dare say but unsurprisingly very bumpy in the last 1-2.
It could not have been otherwise given the structural differences setting these countries apart. And excessive spending pursued mostly by a few Southern European States who could not see beyond the present.
Adherence to the Maastricht criteria never again seemed to be taken seriously once countries landed themselves inside the Euro club. Not to mention Greece that never fulfilled the criteria in the first place or ever bothered to balance its books.

Very disappointing to admit but the Euro Zone is indeed right in the middle of a storm testing its main crews to the limit.
The latest summit decisions seem to indicate that where there is a will there is a way.
It may have just been one first small step in the right direction.

The specifics are very hard to work on.
Yet it would seem to me that the 17-member Euro Zone and the larger EU can hardly afford shooting down the Euro.
The broader picture needs to come into full view.
An hypothetical demise of the single currency would deal another severe blow to Europe's economic fortunes.
Its relative decline vis-a-vis the rest of the world would get a further boost.

I do not like misplaced calls for solidarity from Southerners but would rather see the stronger half of the dividing line realize where their medium-to-long interest lies.
To that end many balances across the Euro Zone need to be restored at the earliest.

Europe agrees a "shock and awe" bailout for Greece

A rescue package of epic proportions, epic challenges for the Greek government and people, epic uncertainties and epic stakes for the single-currency.

It was the Euro's defence that ultimately forced politicians from Germany to Malta to perform a hard balancing act whose overall success is far from assured.Each finance minister has enough reasons to fret and grumble about.It being the Euro as a common currency, because of Greece despite Greece.
Up to now every 'least damaging' approach failed miserably to cool down the financial markets that remained as unimpressed as ever throughout.
For its part Greece is effectively the main winner in this high-finance gamble.The country bought time the markets were not willing to give it once confidence vanished.Precious time desperately needed to restore credibility and good governance at home.
A daunting internal fix with daunting external implications.
Three full years is what the government and Greek society top-down and bottom-up now have to set the record straight in so many ways.
Literally and figuratively.

For the other 15 Eurozone countries - each facing own troubles to varying degrees - keeping fingers crossed would be mild to describe the monitoring of Greece's performance over the coming 36 months.Potentially they are all losers, starting out by losing simply to avoid bigger losses!
There are so many relevant questions that might be asked to which full answers ought to be provided.
They won't get asked or get answered.
Tellingly, each and every single one of them would now seem rhetorical or at best an exercise for academia.

The spectre that haunts Europe

I am still hopeful that Greece will not require a bail-out in whatever form pinning my hopes on the PM's own words.

He did sound very bold and brave in the face of such overwhelming odds but until a deal is actually in place I would rather believe the Greeks can and will take care of themselves.

My stance is wholly based not on immediate needs triggered by the Western financial meltdown that led to the economic downturn.This in turn led to a collapse in tax revenues across countries caused by economies shrinking badly.

To a large extent Greece is indeed a one-off case-study for the worst reasons, its latest fiscal deficit the sum total of profligate spending, widespread cultural-rooted tax evasion, underbudgeting, creative accounting, weak notion of public service and duty, etc - all conspiring over decades to bring the country to the brink of bankruptcy.

I am sure many Greeks will have seen it coming and warned their governments in years past.To no avail as even the present government was elected as recently as late 2009 on a platform to increase spending.

According to EMU rules public finances were clearly to remain national responsibilities.A considerable chunk of sovereignty for States to manage through their democratically-elected governments of the day.
Would the Greeks have liked their Finance Ministry to be ruled or dictated to from Brussels or Frankfurt just so the Maastricht-agreed criteria could not have been so despondently ignored?

Current turmoil is the Euro's hardest test ever but one that will also represent a defining moment in the single-currency's future.

It is a fact that Southern European countries are faced with similar issues though not on the same scale and urgency.Others in Northern Europe, the US and Japan also recorded their biggest fiscal deficits and added up noticeably to their debts in 2009.
Each one has its own track-record, however.
This is exactly what sets Greece apart from the rest.
Each country is unique in its own way, there being obviously overlapping between them.

International rating agencies must make the effort to closely monitor and register those differences and then advise financial markets.

After all it is sovereign countries and sovereign debt one is dealing with.

There is much more at stake than strictly soulless bundling of nations.

Arquivo do blogue

sábado, 27 de fevereiro de 2010

TEc "The beef in Buenos Aires" - The UK-Argentina dispute over the Falklands/Malvinas

I'm afraid this will be only another twist in the long-running dispute between the UK and Argentina on sovereignty over the Isles Malouines, Islas Malvinas, Falkland Islands.
The latest round of diplomatic disagreement is condemned to blow over after a spate of high-charged rhetoric not adding to or detracting from the core issue.
The islands changed names are themselves testimony to the rivalries of European nations in the heydays of overseas expansion, empire-building or claims to newly-found territories, inhabited or not.
The underlying historical fact witnessed across the world is that Portugal and Spain preceded France, the Netherlands and the UK by 100-200 years.
The French, Dutch and British initiated themselves to become sea-faring nations as pirates coveting 'possessions' of the former two.This led to increased clashes, wars, temporary or permanent occupation of territory previously held by Portugal and Spain.

As the Spanish empire declined with most of its Central and South American colonies attaining independence through the 19th century, Great Britain achieved the peak of its power.
Loss of the 13 American colonies in 1776 did not undermine confidence that Britannia with its vast flotilla of ships effectively ruled the waves.

That was the setting for the British takeover of Islas Malvinas in 1833, a time when Argentina had already emerged as an independent country inheriting previously Spanish ruled mainland provinces as well as the thinly inhabited or uninhabited islands of the South Atlantic.
The Argentinean Constitution maintains Islas Malvinas to be part of the country.

As The Economist rightly puts it there are any number of anomalies in the world's political/administrative order today.These were mostly produced by a past history of conquest, conflict or acquisition.

Quick solidarity displayed by the Latin American bloc also underscores the Continent's common European origins proudly shaken off when not rejected at independence.
This is why too the Falklands are sometimes referred as a colonial question when at best it relates to a legacy from Britain's empire that outlasted Spain's.

In this particular case can geography or a relatively lightly-seated historical claim be a binding argument in the dispute?

Also, the minimal size of the human settlement makes it unfeasible for the Falklanders to go it alone ever.
They will always show a number of dependences, defence not least.
The islands destiny seems tied to the UK for the foreseeable future.

If oil is struck the UK will have yet another powerful argument not to relinquish its grip over this "far-flung relic" of the once mighty British Empire.
The recent brief war that claimed nearly 905 lives on both sides is a reminder that to Argentina this remains an open question.
Despite dropping the use of military force the Argentinean Constitution and nation have not dropped the issue.

1982 was indeed a closer-run conflict strictly militarily speaking.
The Royal Navy cannot forget the sinking of HMS Sheffield or HMS Coventry and other battle ships sunk or damaged.
Particularly hard - it could have signalled a turning point and a different outcome to the war - was the loss of the container-ship Atlantic Conveyor laden with much-needed military hardware.
Those Exocet-carrying Super Etendard, Dagger and Skyhawk pilots of Argentina's Air Force delivered very painful punches to the British task-force.
American spy-satellites and the French embargo on those feared missiles proved vital help.

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